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From left: Azlan Typewriter, Datuk Hattan and Hazama delivered blistering performances backed by the MPO during the recent Rock Tri-O concert at the DFP. (Picture courtesy of DFP)

IT was off to a rocky start. The recent concert with a rock music slant at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) in Kuala Lumpur saw the stupendous Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) performing with three renowned local music artistes, Datuk Hattan, Hazama and Azlan Typewriter.

But it was a little shaky in its earlier segment. Not that the MPO is any stranger to edgier fare in the “rockestral” vein, with previous concerts such as MPO Rocks (2013), The Music Of Led Zeppelin (2014), The Music Of Queen (2015) and Ella ‘Live’ With The MPO (2017).

After an enchanting instrumental start with the MPO doling out a winsome medley of classic local and foreign hits comprising of Kamelia (by Sweet Charity), Sweet Child O'Mine (Guns N' Roses), Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen) and Rock You Like A Hurricane (Scorpions), Nor Azlan Rosle came onstage for the vocal opening.

Better known as Azlan Typewriter, the frontman of the popular local rock outfit Azlan & The Typewriter, his nervousness was noticeably apparent even though he wore a pair of cool shades.

Taking on Lefthanded’s Tiada Lagi Kidungmu and Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven, the 37-year-old rocker’s gravely voice sounded slightly shaken but he was not completely stirred as he pulled through with a gutsy performance.

Hazama Azmi, 34, who took to the stage next fared better, perhaps because he delivered his own song, Peneman, which was the original soundtrack tune from the TV3 drama, Asalkan Dia Bahagia.

The Akademi Fantasia Season 9 champion followed it with a stomping medley of The Cranberries’ signature hit, Zombie, and 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Up.

Then, old school rocker Datuk Hattan came onstage and by this time, the concert was in full gear as he delivered two of his hit tunes from the 1990s, Memburu Rindu and Biso Bonar, with the latter featuring his Negri Sembilan roots with its distinct dialect.

Cool, composed and comfortably casual, the 54-year-old artiste was clearly at home onstage and developed a quick rapport with the enthusiastic audience.

No surprise there as the in-demand rocker with a finely-aged voice has been entertaining fans in a career that now spans past three decades.

The post-intermission segment saw all three rockers stepping up to offer performances with more bravado and grit. Backing them was conductor Ahmad Muriz Che Rose, who led the MPO with a steady and elegant fashion throughout, with a repertoire that featured arrangements from him, as well as Ilham Subri, Leonard Yap, Genervie Kam, Luqman Aziz, Jenny Chin and Syed Sharir Faisal Syed Hussain.

After another medley of instrumentals made up of Search’s Isabella and ACDC’s Back In Black, as well as Led Zeppelin’s velvety Kashmir and galloping Immigrant Song, Hazama entertained the audience with a striking rendition of his tune, Relakan Jiwa.

He then upped the ante with a memorable performance of a Sweet Charity medley that included Sejuta Wajah, Hilang Gelap Terbitlah Terang and Kamelia.

Next up, Azlan, though speaking less to the crowd than Hazama, performed in much better form as he belted out Nirvana’s mega-hit rocking single, Smells Like Teen Spirit, and Kings Of Leon’s Use Somebody, with subtle and shimmering accompaniment by the MPO.

Clearly warmed up, he then delivered a sizzling version of the award-winning song, Lagu Untukmu, from his previous band Meet Uncle Hussain.

By this time the 900-strong crowd that packed the DFP were already primed and sang along passionately without much prodding.

The last two numbers before the finale were Hattan’s Rendang Tak Berbuah and Kembara’s Gerhana, both of which were delivered in a heartfelt manner that drew thunderous applause from the audience.

What followed was another medley to end the concert that saw all three sharing the stage for Smoke On The Water (Deep Purple), Back In Black (ACDC), Always Somewhere (Scorpions), Another One Bites The Dust (Queen) and Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen).

Saving the best for last, the two-hour concert then presented a rousing encore which saw all three rockers performing Fantasia Bulan Madu (Search), Biru Mata Hitamku (Wings), Sentuhan Kecundang (Ekamatra) and Pawana (Search).

The two-night run of the concert, dubbed Rock Tri-O, was the first time that all three artistes got to perform at the DFP and collaborate with the MPO.

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